Senate Control VIA Runoff
Behind the Presidential race there was also a senate race that would decide control of the senate… until it didn’t. Two Georgia senate races ended in a tie causing them to proceed to a special “run-off” election. Under Georgia law a candidate must receive greater than 50% of the vote. This does not seem like difficult math unless the vote is split resulting in neither candidate receiving more than 50%. As a result, the state will hold a special run-off election. Georgia’s two senate seats alternate in their terms, so their re-election is almost never in the same year. This is a special circumstance; Senator Kelly Loeffler was appointed to replace Senator Johnny Isaks last year who retired due to health reasons. Senator Loeffler was facing special election to decide who would finish out the remainder of senator Isaks original term to 2022 as Loeffler was a special appointment and not actually elected to office. In addition, Senator David Perdue was facing re-election in a normally scheduled race for his next term. Both of these races resulted in a less than 50% majority sending both to a rare double runoff election.
According to an article in The New York Times by Luke Broadwater, the runoff election was designed as a way to “keep white political power and discredit the influence of black politicians.” Created in the 1960’s, Broadwater goes on to note that democrats have only won seven runoff races. At this moment the democrats and republicans have split the senate with 48 seats a piece. The winner of the two special runoffs could very well decide control of the senate, either giving the democrats full control of the congress and Whitehouse or giving the republicans veto power to democratic legislation via Senate control.
The runoff will occur on January 5th, while voters must be registered by December 7th. Amidst the national coverage and increasing attention on the Georgia runoff the two Republican candidates have called for the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to resign. He has continually upheld the integrity of the elections, going against Republican party speaking lines claiming that there were multiple instances of voter fraud and “illegal ballots.” These accusations have not been supported by any state officials or major news outlet reports but are a major speaking point for President Trump as he seeks legal action to contest the national presidential election. According to an article by Rick Rojas and Richard Fausset, the Republican incumbents did not mention any specific allegations as a cause for Mr. Raffensperger to resign but instead made vague claims of “failures that need to be called out” and for “mismanagement and lack of transparency.” According to the same article, Mr. Raffensperger dismissed their allegations as “laughable” and outwardly denied their request for his resignation.
As President Elect Joe Biden has officially won the state of Georgia this marks the first time since 1992 that Georgia has awarded its electoral votes for a democratic candidate. This has undoubtedly sparked concern for the Republican senators who look to maintain a republican stronghold in the state. Democrats have not been shy in awarding significant credit for their rise in Georgia to Stacy Abrams, the loser of a prior governor’s race in Georgia which some claim was a result of voter suppression. She has spent the last few years generating a strong democratic movement in the state, one that most certainly played a significant role in their successful statewide campaign for Joe Biden and they hope will carry over to the state runoff elections for senate. The democratic candidates will need a significant outpouring of support in the upcoming runoff elections if they hope to tie or win the senate going forward.